Bike medics are showing they can save lives by quickly reaching locations that are inconvenient or inaccessible to large vehicles. In fact, bicycle medics were amongst the first on the scene tending to Carrie Fisher after her recent medical incident on an airplane. Bicycle medic teams have become more and more popular in recent years.
Both small and large cities across the world are using bicycle medics as a supplement to their ambulance teams. From Los Angeles and London to Cody, Wyoming, these paramedics can quickly maneuver in and out of heavy traffic areas. Often, these medics are traditional EMS personnel who work overtime on bicycles during community events, concerts, sporting events, and on crowded city streets.
The bicycles are often completely reflective, with sirens and flashing lights, similar to an ambulance. They include large packs full of potentially lifesaving medical equipment- from defibrillators to intravenous medications and first aid treatments.
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During medical emergencies, time is of the essence. Emergency medical services can have a difficult time accessing some areas and maneuvering rapidly through city streets First responders on bicycle can quickly access and assess patients, and begin medical treatment, often before ambulances even arrive on the scene. These extra minutes in early response have led to increased life-saving amongst emergency personnel, especially during major events and on crowded roadways.
Bicycle medics began to become part of EMS agencies in the 1990’s, about a decade after police cyclists. Today, there are over 500 EMS bicycle teams across the country, and their life-saving measures are truly making a difference. The cyclists often travel in teams, and are much more cost efficient than their vehicular partners.
In some areas, public safety cyclists serve to bridge the gap between police and EMS cyclists. They are often seen at special events and are available to provide general assistance as well as emergency care to injured people.
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When budgets are tight, bicycle medics make sense. Purchasing and equipping an ambulance is a very costly endeavor: it can run over $250,000. Buying and equipping three bicycles, on the other hand, costs just a few thousand dollars. For EMS personnel who are already avid cyclists, the transfer to bikes is an easy one.
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There are, however, some limitations. Cyclists cannot carry backboards or stretchers, and cannot transport patients. They can, however, administer immediate care and begin life-saving services while communicating with ambulance and hospital personnel about the needs of the patient. And, of course, in minor cases in which patients will not be transferred to the hospital, bicycle medics eliminate the need for other EMS personnel.
Finally, as bicycle medics are on the streets, they can communicate regularly with crowds and civilians. They can intervene when they see potential safety hazards, and can share safety tips and guidelines when appropriate.